A FURIOUS Theresa May slapped down the EU's Donald Tusk in an icy showdown today after his "hell" comments sparked a huge row.

The PM fronted up the EU boss and told him his outrageous comments were "not helpful" and caused "widespread dismay" in the UK.

After talks with several EU leaders today she told reporters before heading back to Britain: "I've raised with President Tusk the language that he used yesterday, which is not helpful and caused widespread dismay in the United Kingdom."

Mr Tusk sparked uproar by saying there was a "place in hell" reserved for Brexiteers who campaigned to leave without a plan.

Now the PM said that talks will start to "find a way to get this over the line" and push her deal through the Commons.

She vowed: "My work is to deliver Brexit, to deliver it on time and I am going to be negotiating hard in the coming days to do just that.

"It's not going to be easy but crucially President Juncker and I have agreed that talks will now start to find a way through this."

During the meeting, Mr Tusk risked anger by pressing Mrs May to accept an offer from Jeremy Corbyn to work together on a new soft Brexit plan.

After today's summit, the PM will travel to Dublin tomorrow with Attorney General Geoffrey Cox for talks with Irish officials on a possible way forward.

She's understood to be targeting an EU-Africa summit in Egyptian resort Sharm El Sheikh later this month as a possible time to strike a final deal.

On her way in to the EU headquarters the PM's convoy was interrupted by a Europhile protester, who threw himself in front of a car in an apparent bid to stop her.

But she later got some better news as she convinced the EU to back down and hold more talks on the hated Northern Irish border.

After a "robust" showdown with EU boss Jean Claude Juncker today, she managed to secure an extra three weeks of discussions on the UK's future relationship with the bloc.

Mrs May insisted the UK must not be "trapped" in the Northern Ireland backstop and laid out a string of options to get out of the mess.

"The two leaders agreed that their teams should hold talks as to whether a way through can be found," a statement released from No10 said.

Although Mr Juncker insisted the Withdrawal Agreement cannot be changed, he "expressed his openness" to edit the UK's future relationship with the EU to get to a deal quicker.

No10 described the news as "important progress" today.

But Mr Tusk warned that other EU leaders would have to agree to it too.

The pair will meet again "before the end of February to take stock", officials confirmed today, kicking the can for securing a deal even further down the road towards exit day in March.

EU Parliament Antonio Tajani told reporters after separate talks with Mrs May that the EU would be "more ambitious on our future relations, including looking at the Irish situation again if the UK's red lines change."

But he warned: "We are very concerned. We're weeks away from an economic and human catastrophe."

The PM told the EU's Guy Verhofstadt that she wasn't seeking to rip up the backstop at all - which could risk the rage of Brexiteer MPs who demanded she find a whole new solution.

But Mr Verhofstadt said they could "upgrade" the political declaration, making it "more binding, more precise".

And he admitted that leaving without a deal would hit the EU too - saying it would be a "disaster on both sides of the channel".

The Sun revealed last night that the PM is set to scrap the plan for Tory unity - the so-called Plan C - now EU leaders have shot it down.

Allies say Mrs May knew beforehand that EU leaders will never accept it and wants to swiftly move on over the weekend to pressing for legally binding changes to toughen up the current backstop.

But the plans are still alive for now as they will be discussed on Monday with Michel Barnier, No10 confirmed this afternoon.

Or instead of re-opening the deal, Brussels might allow a legally binding letter to make it clear that the hated backstop deal is only temporary, The Times reported today.

This morning Jeremy Corbyn threatened to derail the talks by hinting that Labour could back a soft Brexit.

He wrote to the PM laying out the conditions which his party would back a deal.

Meanwhile, No10 last night played down the prospect of getting a breakthrough in time to put to MPs in next Thursday’s Commons votes.

A senior Downing Street source said: “If the clouds clear then great, but realistically it’s not where we’re going.”

The source added that the Government would have to put “something” down to vote on next Thursday but said he expects the “focus” will be on other amendments such as attempts to legislate against a no deal Brexit.

Delaying the votes further will ramp up the pressure from Remainers to extend Article 50 to allow enough time to get all the legislation through the House of Commons in time.